The Army chief, Gen Chalermchai Sithisart, made the call after the Army sent several hundreds of soldiers to join in the search of Phra Dhammachayo with officials from the Department of Special Investigation.
He said as the military junta chief has invoked Section 44 of the interim Constitution to declare the temple area and its vicinity special control zone to facilitate the operation, his disciples and supporters should step back to facilitate the operation.
He said as evidence was clear that he was guilty and must enter legal procedure, all supporters should understand and withdrew.
He said everyone must come under the same law if he is wrong.
The Army chief declined to comment if Phra Dhammachayo has escaped or still inside the temple, saying this will become clear in the next few days.